Tag Archives: silk

re-loving pre-loved

Last week was a bit of a blur.  A 2 day workshop at the JANM, all the prep and putting away for that consumed days apart from the actual time at the museum. We made fermentation vats for everyone who wanted to take one home.  I decanted and took a 5 gallon container from my own ferm vat to the workshop for participants to try out.  We “seeded” each of the new vats with a cup or two of my vat, so now the mother vat has children and I may become a grandmother! Or at least an Auntie. I took NO photos that weekend- was just very involved and focused on what we were doing. Thanks to all who came and also to those who plan on returning to the upcoming workshops Dec 10-11 and also on the Feb. 4-5.

The week also brought some pomegranate dyeing into view and it feels as if I am spinning straw into gold. Using lots of old cloth-collected and gifted- re-loving them.

And now finally, I attempt to finish this post started nearly a week ago.  With the first boxes sent off to the Ed office for my Houston workshops and the studio reorganized from that fiasco I continue…
plus, we got some rain…


Old cloth, old books (and a piano)

I never should have borrowed this book from my friend Donna:


It is very interesting and hysterical even, at times.  Especially the chapter titled “Cats and Dogs”. You might wonder why (especially now!) that I would choose NOT to entertain myself with such mirth given the dearth of nonsense going on about us.

The reason being that yesterday a piano fell on my face.


yes, this piano…

And it hurts to smile or laugh.  And it is just in time for my weekend workshop at the museum (sorry- but all filled up). It’s not as bad as it sounds but it does hurt a bit and as long as I keep a straight face it doesn’t bother much.  Admittedly, I probably should have gone for a stitch or maybe two but being a bit cheap these days I lay around with a bit of ice and some pressure on it to make it behave (took a while). That being said, I was trying to come up with a funny way to describe to my workshop attendees what the heck happened.  The simple “a piano fell on my face” seemed appropriate (considering I can deliver the line with a straight face).

In actuality, I was cleaning behind the old upright piano and moving it back into position when the front board fell forward onto me and caught me in the face and arm(nice hurty bruise there too-but not too noticeable). By the end of the evening I had the room there all cleaned up and Phil got some new space to store and organize all his accumulating music. Yay! Plus I cleaned up some of my fabric stuff I needed to get to for the weekend of indigo dyeing.

Speaking of fabric, the end of the day resulted in about 50 meters of old silk kimono linings all washed up, most threads removed, ironed and folded.  These will be used this weekend and also at the upcoming Yosemite workshop. Cloth with a memory. Imperfectly perfect.

Back to the book- apparently you can get a reprint of it and also it is available on the Gutenburg Project- Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

“Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and it helped establish him as a leading English humorist.” Wikipedia
 Originally published: 1886
Author: Jerome K. Jerome

Donna was also clearing out some space and found it lurking there in some dark corner. It is much more satisfying to hold this old original copy in my hand than read it off a screen though I may have to save it for next week’s readings when I can laugh out loud as I do.
Even the preface was humorous-


wouldn’t elevate a cow… 

And really, isn’t change what we are looking for?

Old books, old cloth…got me to wondering.  What is the oldest book and the oldest cloth I have here? I wonder…

(And by the way, if you see me around town- don’t tell me a joke for at least a week!)


encouraging process

I have always been a process oriented person.

I like to take a material and make it into something else.  I like to figure out and create a process for that.  To repeat that process.  So many times…to create the process and then alter it. The process and the repeating keeps me balanced. Even when operating within the maze.

I like to discover via process.  I discovered this process after doing a lot of this.  It takes doing. And going there many times.  And still…

In the workshops I teach, I like to lead a path to discovering.  Not solve everything for you. Your path will be different from mine.  If I am rigid and demand that you follow my example you may not find your own path.  I like to encourage wondering- which in the end means experimenting and questioning.

Lately, life does seem like a maze.  We will get through. Life is a Maze ing.
(3 available in the shop)

more letters

Just a little follow-up to the day at the elementary school. I love these letters.

I received 33 letters from the kids at Menlo Elementary. I love each one. I will share a few- just know they were all special and heartfelt. Each one included an illustration. Mine were from one of the 3rd grade classes. I love how they saw me. I would include more but this would be a
V E R Y long post.
IMG_2588 IMG_2587 IMG_2585 IMG_2584 IMG_2583 IMG_2582 IMG_2581 IMG_2580 IMG_2578

seeds, seedlings, seeded

Back to seeds

The beauty of seeds is that they can become.  What?  Something of beauty perhaps. Many seeds are beautiful themselves. Today I was noticing the seeds in the yard.

I will save some of the sunflower and poppy seeds. That sunflower plant had over 70 flower heads all at once. There are so many.  The birds love them too and we share them.  The poppies were so successful this year and gave much delight to all who saw them.  And so easy.  I really didn’t have to do anything at all except cast them out at the right time. Nature did the rest.  Next year, if you drive by you’ll know the house for all the poppies.  The seed heads for both the sunflowers and poppies are in the drying and maturing stage. Some will just drop on their own and surprise me next year. Faithful volunteers.

Yesterday, I went to present myself and my “career”  for Career Day at a South LA Elementary school.  First, I want to say that the kids were great.  They are like little sponges that soak things up.  They were enthusiastic.   Turns out- the school does have two mulberry trees on its campus.  Just no memory of why.  I think I can solve that. Next year, I will get some silkworms started early- just when the mulberry leafs out.  Plant some silk seeds and water them into fertile ground there.  As for explaining my “career” to the kids-it was challenging, funny, and informative.  I only had 30 minutes with each of the 4 classes. Most of the time was spent talking about silk and silkworms.  I brought a tray of them-still so tiny. We cut open the cocoons and saw the pupae inside. I passed around a hank of reeled filament silk, mawata, yarn, kibisu and more.  I showed them the cocoon frames-both straw and cardboard. They all took home a cocoon and a square of silk. Three classes were 3rd graders and one was 4th grade. Trevor had 4th and 5th graders and did 5 sessions. His kids learned to play a couple of rhythms with straws at their desks with him playing bells. This K-5 has no dedicated art or instrumental music teacher.

Unfortunately, I must report that the silkworms are not thriving.  This is the latest I have ever started them. I really wanted them for the career day event and was taking a bit of a chance.   Although there is green mulberry leaf here it is not new and succulent. It is just too dry. We had rain earlier this season but has been very dry for over a month now. El Nino did not arrive in the south this year as predicted. Moving on…sadly.

But fortunately, my friend Nobue Higashi in Annaka, Japan is having a very successful cocoon rearing season. I recently watched this NHK short video on a visit to her place there.  I couldn’t find one video of the entire episode and this one repeats but you can see the portion of the show in which they visit her.

A long hot dry summer is ahead. Water will continue to be precious.
so many poppy seeds

There are a few openings left for the indigo and shibori workshop on June 18 & 19. Contact the Japanese American National Museum to sign up. I will have some indigo seeds to share as well.

demonstrated at the workshop


encouraging wonder

I’m raising some silkworms again.  As a reminder. Of why. And how. And who I am.

I’m raising them from seed (eggs) and purchased 3 types- white, green, and pink cocoons. Previously, I have only raised white and yellow cocoons.

I have been wanting to do another (smaller than last time-1000) batch and now have 200 or so of each of the above. It seemed the perfect time as I was recently asked to step in to do a “career day” in a South LA Elementary school that was lacking parents who could come and do presentations.  SO, Trevor, Phil and I will all go and do our thing next Tuesday.  I wonder if parents really want their kids to be musicians, dyers or sericulturists…
At least we will be entertaining and make them wonder.

Here is the beginning-


the in-betweens

Here we enjoy some cooler than usual weather this week. That and some great clouds and broken sunlight.  I say that since we usually have all sun all day until June when in a good year we along the coast are protected by what is known as “June Gloom”(somewhat a misnomer unless you want to go to the beach). This offers us some coastal fog and cloud cover in the mornings until the sun comes out to heat us up until sunset.

This weather is my favorite weather of the year-where it is temperate even inside my garage studio where it can easily reach over 100 degrees on many days.  Still one must shibori on!

The big distraction (my enjoyment on mini-breaks I take throughout the day) is a wander through the yard to notice.  So many things in bloom, creatures crawling, wings fluttering, birds in song. I wonder.

and from a distance…
from a distanceIn between.  That’s where real things happen. Where one can slow time down a bit and wonder. Test out some new thoughts and answer some questions. In between making shibori ribbon for orders I did some more wondering about the silk shibori ribbon tailings with beads, some thread and a needle.
like an ameoba

Let me be the first to say I am not a beader. I dabble.  Through my shibori ribbon I have come to know and really appreciate the artistry and craft of beading.  I have enjoyed dabbling in the in-betweens.  I am too hands-on to really follow instructions and patterns in the several beading books I have acquired.  I’d really rather enjoy just exploring an idea until something credible happens.  One day I’ll take a workshop and learn some basic beading techniques. Until then…
more shibori on silk.

"silk tailing" particularly alluring and craving some beads i think...

“silk tailing” particularly alluring and craving some beads i think…

silk nestI’ll keep dabbling.
IMG_2298Wondering about the persimmons that are self thinning as you can see by the photo earlier, I saved the tiny fallen kakis to see if I could extract and ferment them to gain some color.  Next step will be the food processor and some straining. Fall seems a long way off from here.

I love what Deb is doing here with her indigo.  My vat has been drained and added to the compost.  A new one will be started soon.  I am devising a method for keeping out the flies.  Hopefully…

In Silk Study Tour to Japan news- we are 3/4 of the way there with the minimum number of participants.  Still room for more if you are interested.  I’m looking forward to getting this part settled earlier than usual this time.  Hirata san sent me some fun photos and we “facetimed” with an interesting vendor at the Kitano Tenmangu flea market in Kyoto which we will visit next year (me here and Hirata san on the street in Kyoto- gotta love it!).  Hopefully the next blog post will detail that visit.